(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Interview with CPhM William Bailey, hospital corpsman during World War II Pacific campaigns."

Telephone interview with CPhM William Bailey, hospital corpsman during World War II 
Pacific campaigns. Conducted by Jan K. Herman, Historian, Bureau of Medicine and 
Surgery, 21 March, 2002. 

Are you from North Carolina? 

Yes. I was born in Stantonsburg just below Wilson. 

When did you join the Navy? 

I went in right after Pearl Harbor in 1941. 

Why did you pick the Navy? 

I had a cousin who was a chief water tender on the Augusta (CA-3 1) He was home on 
shipping over leave and got after me. He wanted to know what I was going to do. He said, "You 
know, you're going to have to go in." I figured I'd go in the Army. He said, 
"You ought to go in the Navy. You live a whole lot better." He suggested that I tell them that I 
knew everything about first aid and that I should be hospital corpsman. According to him, they 
always stayed inside and drank coffee all the time and never had outside watch. 

Did he ever lie to you... 

He didn't know. He never heard of the Fleet Marine Force. After the war, I told him that 
he had lied to me. 

Where did you go for boot camp? 

Norfolk. 

How long was basic training? 

Five weeks, I believe it was. 

And you were assured that you could go to Corps school? 

I never went to Corps school. 

Well, what happened after you got out of boot camp? 

The recruiter asked me if I knew anything about first aid. I told him I had first aid courses 
and showed him my certificates. So he signed me up as a hospital corpsman. I was then sent to 
Annapolis, MD, to the naval hospital right straight from Norfolk. I was assigned to a medical 
ward. I checked in there on a Thursday. I had a red-headed nurse and she'd tell me things to do. 
Finally, on Saturday morning she told me it was time to go to work. "We've got an inspection 
today and you have a sick man over there named Ashcroft. I want you to give him a bed bath. FU 
show you how to do it. Get a curtain, a basin of water, and soap and FU show you everything you 
need to know." 

So I came back and she showed me what I was supposed to do. I went ahead and gave the 
man a bed bath and when I was finished he said, "Doc, can I have a little water?" I had a pitcher 
of fresh water there and a glass. So I poured him some water. "You'll have to hold my head up. I 



can't lift it," he said. So I reached underneath and lifted his head up and started giving him some 
water when he fell back and died right on the spot. Good Lord, it like scared me to death! I was 
devastated. I thought, "Lord, what have I done to have gotten myself into something like this?" 

Did you think that you were responsible for what happened? 

I didn't know what I was responsible for. Anyhow, she told me to get Dr. Mermod. Well, 
I didn't know Dr. Mermod from a hole in the ground. I went running down the hall and by the 
time I got back she already had the doctor and he had pronounced him dead and they were rolling 
him out. 

I'd go to the mess hall after that and for 2 or 3 days, some guy would come up and slap 
me on the shoulder. "Hey, you're the new corpsman here that had a man die on you. How did you 
do that? I've been here 3 years and never seen a man die yet." 

But in about a month I was right in there doing my job. 

How long did you stay at Annapolis? 

Not very long. I left the first day of August and was sent to the Fleet Marine Force. 

Did you know what that was at that time? 

Let me tell you what happened. I got into a little trouble. We had a nurse and for some 
reason she just didn't like me. She was critical of everything I did. I had a bandsman on the ward 
who was real sick and right on the point of death. The day before, they had moved about 15 
corpsmen out to some ships in Chesapeake Bay and left us short-handed. I was on the ward by 
myself and had to give him 10 bed baths and change his bed 10 times that day because he was 
throwing up and messing up everything. I was working like hell to try to get it done and ran out 
of sheets. 

I ran down the hallway of the nearest ward and asked a corpsman there if I could get some 
sheets. She [the nurse] chewed me out for not going to her since she was the senior officer and I 
was supposed to go to her first. I told her I didn't have time to do a damn thing but get those 
sheets and get under way. And I walked off and left her. Well, she reported me. It wasn't 15 
minutes before I was standing before the old man. He was very nice about it. He asked me why I 
talked like that to her. I told him I was doing all I could to take care of this man. He told me I 
couldn't talk to her that way. I said I was sorry but that I had work to do and didn't have time to 
talk to her. He told me he would have to move me. "I'll give you a choice. You can go to St. 
Elizabeth's for duty or I'll send you to the Fleet Marine Force." 

I knew about St. Elizabeth's. It was a psychiatric hospital and I didn't want any part of 
that. I told him I'd take the Marines. And he asked me if I knew what I was doing. And I said yes 
sir. I'd seen them all the time. Well, all I knew about the Marine Corps was what I saw at the 
main gate. That was my total knowledge. Lord have mercy. The next day I was headed down to 
Camp Lejeune. 

I rode the train down to Wilmington and they picked me up in a worn out school bus. It 
was on a Sunday, August 2nd, and it was about 1 10 degrees. I was traveling in blues. They lost 
my seabag. That was the most terrible thing I had ever seen. 

We slept in tents that night. The headquarters of the 3rd Marine Division was there. Three 



days later they moved us over to become the cadre unit of the 23rd Marines. We were 2 weeks 
down there without a uniform. So we were running up and down the roads in those blues about to 
die. 

I was there for a year and 10 days. I was there while they formed the 25th Marines. On the 
West Coast they formed the 24th Marines. When we moved out, we joined the 24th at Pendleton 
to make the 4th Marine Division. 

What were you doing at Lejeune for a whole year? 

Training every single day. 

What kind of training did you get? 

We were issued Marine uniforms. I had to learn to shoot a rifle. I was assigned to a 
mortar squad one time. I weighed about 135 pounds and the baseplate on that mortar was about 
80 pounds. I had all I could do to lift that thing. 

As far as we were concerned, we were Marines. I wore a Marine uniform. I was paid by 
the Marines. 

Were you assigned to a hospital company? 

I was primarily assigned to a hospital unit but I had training with company aid and 
independent duty. One time I was assigned to the Coast Guard down on the beach there at Camp 
Lejeune for a period of 6 or 8 weeks. They had landing craft going out to sea and making 
landings over and over all day long. I had a little sick bay set up and all I did was take care of the 
Coast Guard. At night we were all blacked out because we were right on the ocean. The whole 
time I was there— 6 weeks— I never had anything serious happen. They secured everything every 
afternoon at 4 o'clock because they had to take the Marines back to the base by truck. They 
assigned me to a crew and we'd take boats out and go fishing almost every afternoon. 

So you shipped out to the West Coast. 

Shipped to the West Coast. 

How did you get there? 

On a troop train. That was the best thing they gave us. I swear it was good. We had 
sleepers. Each man had his own bunk. They had diners. The Army troop trains followed us. We 
passed each other every day and they were sleeping two to a bunk. They had field kitchens set up 
in a boxcar. We'd pass them and we'd hold napkins and silver and shake them so they could see 
it as we went by. You could hear them cussing and carrying on. That was the last good thing the 
Marine Corps did for me. It wasn't that bad, really, although the training got tougher all the time. 

Where did the train end up? 

We went straight to Camp Pendleton. 

What did you do there? 

We were assigned to a barracks and from there we'd go out in field and set up hospitals 



or we'd be assigned to an infantry company. We worked with the Marine Corps as part of the 
Marine Corps. The Navy didn't know me. 

How did you know you were shipping out from Camp Pendleton? 

We were restricted to base for about a week before hand. Only a few men were able to get 
out. Then they took us by truck to San Diego and we were there about 2 days and nights aboard 
these transports. Finally, on New Year's Day 1943 we put out to sea. 

Do you remember what troop transport you went over on? 

USSLa5a//e(AP-102). 

What was the crossing Uke? 

Oh, God! Slow. And it was a round bottom job and it rolled all day and all night. It was 
miserable. We went directly to Hawaii and anchored at Lehaina Roads between Maui and 
Molokai for 1 day while the rest of the ships assembled. We went directly from there to 
Kwajelein atoll— Roi Namur. 

So you never even stepped off the ship in Hawaii. 

No. We were aboard ship the whole time. 

What do you recall about landing on Roi Namur? 

When I got ashore everything had gotten kind of quiet. Roi Namur was not a real rough 
operation. They had blasted that thing so heavily that there was practically nothing left. When I 
got ashore it was more of a tourist tour than anything else. We stayed there for a day or two and 
then went back aboard ship all the way back to Maui, where we set up our main base. We 
operated out of Maui the whole time after that. 

Did the camp have a name? 

It didn't have a name that I know of. It was just a tent camp. 

Did you do any training while you were there? 

Oh, sure. We'd stay there about 3 months between each operation. We'd train and receive 
new replacements and equipment. Sometimes they'd have transports laying off the beach. We'd 
go aboard those and make practice landings. We also made cross-country trips. It was a 
continuous training deal. 

Then you got ready for your second operation. 

Yes. We went aboard ship and went directly to Saipan. 

That wasn't a cakewalk. 

That was right tough. 

How did you get ashore? 



I went in on an alligator tractor. I left the ship on a landing craft but as we neared the 
island there was a rim of coral around it. These alligator tractors would pull up alongside and 
we'd climb aboard. They could climb over that coral and land us on the beach. 

Even before you set out from the ship, what did Saipan look Uke? Could you see the 
bombardment? 

Oh, yes. It was all very clear. It was a mountainous area. Tinian was off to the right about 
3 miles off. 

Were you under fire heading in to shore? 

There was a little bit of fire but not a lot. We had no problem at all going in. We landed, 
moved off the beach, and set up our forward area. 

Was it an aid station you set up? 

Well, originally it was just an aid station until we could move into an area that was more 
secluded. Once we moved away from the beach to an area with some trees— a little 
protection— we'd set up some tents and start receiving just like a hospital. 

Did you have a lot of casualties right away? 

Oh, yes. We sure did— right off the bat. And we had a lot of civilians there, too. 

Japanese civilians? 

We called them Japanese. They were not, though. They were natives of the island. They 
were just caught in the cross-fire there and some were beat up pretty badly. 

What kind of injuries were you seeing? 

At that time, from shell fire. Later on, we had more rifle fire as you got near the end of the 
island. But when we first got there, there were more wounds from mortars and artillery. 

Did you evacuate any of them to the beach? 

For the civilians they set up a camp area with barbed wire around it. They posted guards 
and kept those who were not injured in there. They also had a little sick bay set up for those who 
were sick. But as far as our Marines were concerned, as fast as we could take care of them, we 
sent them back out to the ships. 

Were there any hospital ships offshore? 

Yes. They would come in, load up, and go back. But in the meantime, any excess 
casualties we had, we'd send out to the transports where they'd take a wardroom and make a sick 
bay out of it. We'd have men who had bad head wounds or bad intestinal wounds where they had 
been hit through the stomach and were torn up pretty bad. We'd try to send those out to the 
hospital ships because they were better equipped to handle that sort of thing. 

You could deal with shock? You had plasma, morphine, and that type of thing? 



We had everything. We had a portable lab, a pharmacy setup. We had x-ray equipment 
that could be moved. We worked just like a regular hospital would but it wasn't very clean. 

How many doctors did you have? 

We had about five doctors and one dentist in my company. And about a hundred 
corpsmen. 

So this was a pretty sized unit. 

Oh, yeah. 

Was it in a series of tents? 

Yes. We set them up and handled the casualties as best we could. Sometimes we had men 
who were very injured, hemorrhaging and that sort of thing. We had to operate on them in order 
to save or try to save them. We used the operating room for that. There were three or four tables 
set up and working at one time. We'd get them stabilized and get them on DUKWs or landing 
craft right at the beach and take them out to the transports. They'd hook lines to the stretchers 
and lift them up to the level of the deck. They'd handle them from there. 

How long did this operation go on while you were there? 

I believe we were on Saipan about 28 days. It seemed like forever. 

Where did you go after that? 

After we secured Saipan, we had a week in which to rest up and to regroup, clean up our 
weapons, and clean up the gear. We repacked and reloaded and went aboard an LST and back out 
to sea. They reformed the night before and the next morning we landed on Tinian. Instead of 
going in on the beach, where the Japanese thought we would land, the 2nd Division made like 
they were going to land there, making a feint, then went back to the ship while we were coming 
ashore on the other side. 

Did you set up another aid station? 

Oh, yeah. 

What did that look like? 

That was really raw bones. I got in about 4 o'clock that afternoon and we tried to set up. 
They moved us down the beach and we'd dig foxholes three or four times before we found a 
place they wanted us to be and settled in. We set up a first aid in a big shell hole. That first night 
was tough. They broke the back of the Japanese on the island that first night. They threw 
everything they had at us. We had artillery grouped in front of us~the 14th Marines— with 75s 
and machine guns. And the Japs just poured in all night long and the Marines were just cuttin' 
them down. When the sun came up the next morning there were Japs piled up four and five deep 
in some places. And only half of our company got ashore that night. 

Those of us who had come ashore that first day were hunkered down in foxholes. The 
artillery in front of us took care of everything, just as long as we stayed low. Only one man got 



hit in the arm, the only casualty we had. The next morning at sunrise the others started coming in 
and the Japanese sunk two or three of those landing craft. 

Was this a banzai charge? 

That's what it was. 

Did you see any of that going on? 

Oh, yes. It was going on only about a hundred yards in front of us. 

Were they screaming and yelling? 

Yes. We even had Japanese killed in back of us. 

So, when daylight came you could see what had happened. 

There were dead Japanese everywhere. 

None of them got through? 

No. They literally broke their back that night. From that time on Tinian was just a cleanup 



job. 



So you didn't have a lot of casualties, certainly not a lot of Marines injured that 



night. 

There were some casualties that night but not near what you'd think. But the Japanese 
took a helluva lick. 

And you didn't treat any of them, did you? 

Oh, no. They were all dead. I don't remember treating a single Japanese on Tinian. I did 
treat some on Saipan. We just bandaged them up, gave them water, and sent them back under 
guard. Most were begging for water. They needed that more than anything else. 

They weren't noted for their propensity to surrender. 

They generally would fight to the last man as long as they had anything to fight with. I 
never saw one who wasn't wounded give up. 

How long were you on Tinian? 

About 14 days. We then went back to Maui to the same camp for more drilling and more 
refitting, getting new men to replace the men who had been injured or were sick. We got new 
equipment and then we left there the day after Christmas on the way to Iwo. 

And you didn't know where you were going. Nobody told you. 

At that point, we didn't know where we were going. We knew we were going close to 
Japan but we didn't know where. We were feeling sorry for the people in Europe because the 
Battle of the Bulge was going on and we were in a nice warm climate. The day after Christmas 
when they were having such a hard time, we went aboard ship on the way to the toughest 



operation we had ever had. 

When did you actually learn that you were going to Iwo Jima? 

After we got aboard ship. Once we cast off and put out to sea, they started organizing 
clearances, setting up classes, where you were going, where you would be landing, and what was 
expected. We cleaned our weapons and did general maintenance of everything while we were 
waiting to get there. Licidentally, when we left Hawaii, we didn't go directly. We went to Pearl 
Harbor and anchored there for 3 weeks. The harbor at Maui would only hold two ships at a time. 
They would load two and they'd pull out and go to Pearl Harbor. Then two more would pull in 
and they'd load those. Then the convoy had to be formed before we put out to sea. The slowest 
ships went first because you had to travel at the same rate of speed as the slowest ships to stay in 
the convoy. LSTs left a week before we did. When we left Pearl Harbor, that's when we found 
out where we were going. But before we got to Iwo we went to Saipan and anchored there for 24 
hours, waiting for the LSTs to get ahead of us. Iwo was half way between the Marianas and 
Japan. We caught up with them and joined them in time for the landings on the 19th of February. 

When you finally reached Iwo Jima, what did you see? 

It was the ugliest piece of land I've ever set eyes on. There were no trees on it, nothing 
whatsoever— just smoking. It looked like smoking sand. . . very forbidding looking. 

Could you see the air strikes and the bombardment? 

Oh yes. You could see the strikes very clearly. You could also see the artillery when they 
fired back at us, which was not often because they had everything camouflaged and kept under 
cover until after we got ashore. But the ships laying off the island were just pounding it steady 
right around the clock. And the planes were coming in and diving on them and dropping napalm 
and bombs. It was a constant bombardment. 

Did you land on the first day? 

I did not go ashore on the first day but I'll tell you what I did do. I rode landing craft 
picking up wounded and bringing them back to the ships. I did this for 3 days. It was tough. The 
first day when it started, the water was just as calm as it would be in a lake. It was no trouble 
whatsoever. And that afternoon about 4 or 5 o'clock the wind began to blow, the waves began to 
build up, and it started to rain. It also got cold for that climate. Everybody was very 
uncomfortable. We had to pick up men and bring them back to the ships where they could be 
treated. 

What kind of landing craft were you on that picked up the wounded? 

Regular LCIs, LCVPs. 

Were you under fire going in? 

We were under fire going in and coming out. They had two LSTs anchored about a mile 
off the beach. They were listed as LST(H)s and were used as hospital ships. If you had any men 
who were in bad shape that needed transfusions or who needed oxygen, or anything that you 



couldn't do for them on board that little craft, they'd come in there and unload them and take 
care of them, then reload them again and take them back out to the ship. 

Did you see the hospital ships? 

They were coming and going all the time. 

They stayed pretty far offshore, didn't they? 

No. They'd come in pretty close. 

So you'd go into the beach in an LCVP and land. And there would be wounded 
waiting there for you. 

Yes. They'd just hustle them aboard and we take them out to the ships. We were trying to 
take them aboard one at a time but they were banging against the side of the ship so badly that 
the crew dropped the hook down and hooked on to our bow and stem and start lifting. When we 
were level to the railing, they'd take these wounded men off and get them aboard. 

They then would lower the lines from the ship's davits and raise the entire LCVP up 
to the level of the gunwale. 

Yes. One time one of them I was on, the boy up in the bow hooked on successfully but 
the one in the stern missed his hook. When they started lifting, they had us hanging at about a 45 
degree angle. I reckon we had 10 or 12 men roll right on top of each other off those stretchers. As 
badly hurt as they were, I'm sure it killed some of them. They dropped us down immediately so 
we could hook on, but by that time the damage had been done. It was a dangerous thing. 

What kind of care had they received before you picked them up? 

Strictly field first aid. If a man got hit you'd bandage him up to stop the hemorrhage as 
best you could, give him plasma, give him a shot of morphine, get them on a landing craft and 
get them out to the ship as fast as you could. 

So you really didn't take care of them aboard ship. You were busy ferrying them 
back from the beach. 

For the first 3 days I did nothing except that. 

What happened on the 3rd day? 

Then they took the whole company ashore, moved up the island, and set up a field 
hospital. We were on the edge of the runway. There was a cistern there. On that island the 
Japanese collected rainwater. They had water but it was full of sulfur and they couldn't drink it. 
So they collected fresh water in these cisterns. We took one of these cisterns, the Seabees 
pumped it dry, knocked down one corner, and ground it down and covered it with 2 x 4s and 
heavy tarpaulin to make it blackout proof. We took men in there to be operated on . This was 
strictly an operating room. We had about six tables. There was no ventilation except what 
managed to get in there. It was miserable! But they operated on them there, the absolute worst 
ones. And then they had another tent they had graded down through some big shell holes and 



then pulled the dirt up high so it couldn't be seen from the other part of the island. We set up 
these long ward tents and used that as receiving stations. We did minor work there. Actually, 
here, it would be considered a major operation. Sometimes you'd amputate a leg, do intestinal 
work, whatever. You did what had to be done. 

Then they started flying blood in to us. The first blood we got. . . We got 16 or 18 pints in 
a wooden box secured with a styrofoam type material. It was dropped by parachute. Once planes 
were able to land on the island, we got all the blood we needed. 

Was there dry ice in there to keep it fresh? 

It had been. It had a little compartment right in the center where they'd put enough dry ice 
to keep it cool. But that styrofoam material was about 6 inches thick surrounding the bottles of 
blood. 

Did you see it being administered? 

I gave it; I administered it myself. 

I've heard from other corpsmen who were there who had used plasma previously, 
and then ended up getting to use whole blood. They told me there was a helluva difference 
between the plasma and the whole blood as far as its effect on the patient. 

That's right, because you've given them red blood cells. This instantly began providing 
oxygen and nutrients to the body. The plasma gave them the liquid they needed to keep them 
alive but that's about all you were doing with the plasma. But when we started getting whole red 
blood, we began using it by the ton. We had a Marine captain; I cut his leg off myself. It was just 
hanging by a little tissue. I did the job with a scissors. He had stepped on a land mine, which 
about blew half his butt off. He was just bleeding like crazy. We had two bottles of blood going 
at one time. We ended up giving him 18 pints of blood! Let me tell you, he was almost a dead 
man but was damn lucky. 

So you saved him? 

The doctor. Dr. Charley Saint, from Louisiana, wrote a note on a card giving his address 
and asked him to write him and let him know how he's doing. He was a good doctor and a 
mighty fine man. We had some really good doctors. 

Do you remember any of the other ones? 

There was a Dr. McClamrock from Florida. I believe he was from Ft. Lauderdale. Dr. 
Johnson was our commanding officer. He was the best at first aid, the best at taking care of the 
wounded that I've ever seen. He had so much experience. He came from a coal mining area of 
Pennsylvania. He fell right in on emergency work. 

How many corpsmen would you have had in this unit? 

About 110. 

So it was essentially the same unit you had set up on Saipan? 

10 



Yes. 

What was it called? 

E Medical Company. 

Once the runway was secured, flights of DC-3s began coming in to pick up patients. 
Did you see any of those flights land? 

I sure did. We set up our company hospital right at the end of the runway. We were just 
clear of it. So anytime one of those planes would come in we'd see them. 

Did you see any of the nurses coming off? 

I did not see that. I saw the first plane come in that had a nurse on it but I was busy 
working and didn't get to go over there. We were restricted to that area because there was no 
time for anyone to be gawking around. We had work to do. We handled wounded men right up to 
the minute we cut it off to go back aboard ship. There was no time for sightseeing. One morning 
I was heating some coffee and three of these P-51s had landed there a day or two before. And 
three of them were taking off at one time. The lead plane must have hit a soft spot on the runway. 
They had shelled it the night before and the Seabees had filled it in. And he must have hit a soft 
spot because he got to wobbling and it tipped his wings. One hit the ground and he just 
cartwheeled over and over and over. The other two planes took off and left him on the ground. 
We ran over to him and he was sitting in that thing laughing. There was nothing left of that plane 
left but the cockpit. He had torn everything off but the cockpit with him in it. And he didn't get a 
scratch on him. 

Did you see any of the B-29s come in? 

Yes sir. I saw the first one come in. It had a hole in the wing. Let me tell you. That was 
impressive! I had never been that close to one before and I couldn't believe how big it was. I was 
wondering whether he was going to make it on that short runway. They hadn't been able to 
extend that runway at that time. Really, he shouldn't have even been there but he was in trouble 
and he made it. 

Did you see the crew getting out? 

I saw the crew getting out. But I couldn't go over there. We were busy. 

I bet that was one happy crew. 

You know they were. 

That was the whole reason for taking Iwo Jima was to have a place for those B-29s 
to land. 

That's exactly right. No one could have wanted that place for any other reason. Let me 
tell you something about that island. There were two volcanos there. Both of them were 
semi-active. And there were hot spots all over the island. There were places you'd dig in at 
nighttime and you'd have to move your foxhole from place to place because the ground was so 



11 



hot you couldn't stay there. You'd be freezing on one side and burning up on the other. 
Anywhere on the island, if you wanted to eat your c-rations, we'd just dig a hole about 2 feet 
deep, throw in a dozen cans of c-rations, cover it up, take an entrenching tool and stick it down 
on top of it so you could find it, wait 1 hour, come back and dig it up. And you could hardly hold 
those cans. And if you forgot the things and didn't get them, they'd blow up. 

How long were you there on Iwo? 

From the first day to the 28th of March. And I went in there the first day to the end with 
the first uniform I started with— and no bath. You brushed your teeth and shaved maybe once 
every 4 or 5 days when you had enough water. Water was very scarce, especially the first 10 
days. We were on water rations. What we had we had to use for the men coming in. I'll tell you, 
that was a smelly crowd when we left there. 

Did you ever want to go back to Iwo since the war? 

I went back there for the 40th anniversary. It was impressive. 

I bet it brought back some memories. 

It really did. When you see it then, it makes you wonder how anyone got off the island 
alive. They had about a hundred of the Japanese who survived. Of course, we shook hands with 
them and talked to them. They had several interpreters walking around to help out. And a few of 
the veterans could speak enough English to get by. 

How did you finally get off the island? 

On the 28th of March we left and went back aboard ship, a transport laying off there to 
carry us out. It was a brand new ship and never had any troops on board, just supplies. They were 
still unloading those supplies when we went aboard. There were about three or four-hundred of 
us down in the hold of the ship. A chief came down with a bunch of paper bags in his arms and 
he said, "Fellas, we're cuttin' the fresh water on. You throw all your clothes. Take any of your 
possessions you might have and put in a bag and hang on to it. Throw your uniforms in a pile. 
(Our uniforms had our names stenciled on them.) Fresh water is on so take your showers. When 
you're through, we'll have your uniforms clean and food for you. You're going to have a good 
meal-steak and eggs." 

Well, we took our shower. Have you ever tried to separate 300 uniforms in low light? We 
ended up going to the mess hall naked. Now they had taken the cover off above us and we were 
just ahead of the bridge. The men up on the bridge were looking down on us— the captain and the 
rest of the crew up there. And we were standing up. They had tables but no chairs. So there we 
were standing up eating as naked as jaybirds. 

That must have been a sight. 

While we were eating, a ship next to us pulled anchor and drifted into us. It tore several 
lifeboats loose. It took till about 9 o'clock that night to separate our uniforms. We didn't know 
whose was whose. They were all the same color. Everything looked alike and you had to pick 
them up one by one and call the man's name and throw it to him. There was no way to speed it 



12 



up. I'll never forget it. 

Where did you go after that? 

We went back to Maui, our main base. We were there and training. We received a lot of 
new recruits. They reorganized the division. They were transferring people around, rebuilding. I 
was transferred to the 14th Marines. Had the war continued and we gone into Japan, I would 
have gone back with the artillery. 

Okinawa was going on by then. 

Yes. That started on Easter Sunday. On that day we were crossing the International Date 
Line. I'm 84 years old and have had 85 Easters. 

So you didn't land on Okinawa. 

No. I never saw Okinawa. 

In August, you heard about the bomb. 

I sure did. 

What was your impression of all that? 

We were on the beach getting ready when the first bomb was dropped. Five days later we 
were supposed to go down to the quartermaster and draw winter clothes to make that landing on 
Japan. I was in favor of the bomb. Let me tell you something. If you'd ever made one landing, 
you'd never argue. I was tickled to death that they were able to do it. These bleeding hearts I read 
about or listen to on the television make me sick. If they had been there, they would have been 
damn glad to have had it. If we had gone into Japan it would have been a bad deal. That would 
have been terrible. Very few of us would have made it back. 

The minute the war was over they pulled out all the men that had any time left on 
enlistments and sent them out to places like Johnson Island, some went to Japan, some to China. 
The whole division was literally broken up. 

Where did you end up? 

Back in the States. I came home. I had more time than most of the Marines did. 

So, you had all your points. 

Lord, I had points going to bed. I was discharged when I got home but I went back into 
the reserves. 

Were you called back for Korea? 

Never. I made chief and they didn't call back chiefs. 



13